This post is a little bit – okay, a lot – overdue, I know, but I just hadn’t found the time to get to it. Procrastination at it’s finest. But don’t you worry no more, cause it is finally here; my tribute to camping.
Those who have been reading my blog for a while know that last summer was my first time traveling with a tent. Up until then I was a major fan of staying in hostels and would immediately list that as my preferred overnight-stay on holiday. But with COVID-19 being our unwanted travel companion during the summer of 2020, sleeping in our own tent seemed a little bit safer. Little did I know that I’d fall in love with the simplicity and advantages of it.
I think the first pro is the most obvious one. Sleeping in your own tent is a lot cheaper than a hostel or hotel. The most we spend on a camping spot was 18 euros for one night. Since we were two, that makes only nine euros. For nine nights camping in France, our total cost was about 75 euros each. A bargain!
Of course you do have to provide a tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and pillow, but that’s more an investment than a cost when you go camping more often.
Being the cheap traveler that I am, I was convinced the low price tag of camping would be the major thing to win me over, but nothing was further from the truth. The thing that made me fall in love with tent-life was the a-ma-zing locations you could pitch your tent. Especially in the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval and the Vercors we had the most amazing views right in front of us. We would open our tent in the morning and be greeted by the breathtaking view over the mountains. And that’s simply priceless.
Hotels and hostels are often build quite a bit away from the nature parks, which is the most obvious thing, not only for the view but also to preserve the sites. The campgrounds are often closer to nature, along a hiking trail which makes it even easier to explore the area. Both of our longer hikes we could start right outside our tent. Quite the luxury!
One of my favorite memories of our trip to France was right before we went to sleep in the Vercors. Imagine a warm summer night, we had just finished our delicious self-cooked meal and had enjoyed the gorgeous sunset over the mountain range in front of us. I was already completely relaxed and then suddenly, the stars were joining us. One by one they lit up the sky above us and as the night grew darker, more and more stars popped up. It truly was a sight to behold! And then it got even better. The sky was so clear, we could even see the milky way! I think I almost cried.
If we had stayed in a hotel, we wouldn’t have been in such a secluded location and even if it would have been away from all the light pollution, we probably would have been inside our room already, with only a dull roof to stare at. So yeah, that’s another strike for camp-life!
Since the corona virus was still very much present in our lives back in the summer of 2020, our travels had to be adapted to the fickleness of it. The numbers changed every day, which also meant that we wanted to be able to change our plans accordingly. With a tent, you have a lot more freedom to do so.
Hotels and hostels can easily be full, while on a campground, you’ll have more chance of finding a spot to pitch your tent. Especially if you’re traveling through a country that allows wild camping, you’ll never end up without a place to sleep. Check!
Loss of comfort
While I’ve been going on an on about my love for camping, I of course cannot deny there are also a few downsides. Unfortunately sleeping in a tent is a bit less comfortable than having your own bed in your own room with your own bathroom. A mat and sleeping bag aren’t as soft as a mattress and sheets, and having to walk to the sanitary block when you have to pee at night can be quite the struggle.
However, I must stress that I was pleasantly surprised with the sanitary facilities on all our campgrounds last summer. I’ve had dirtier bathrooms in hotels than what we got while camping. So while it’s a loss of comfort, it definitely didn’t fell like a loss of cleanliness.
Another major con to camping is of course your dependency on the weather. Downpours, too hot, too cold,… Those are all factors you’ll have to adapt to. On our trip last summer we were blessed with the best weather for camping. No rain and the temperatures at night were pleasant. Only on our night in the Ardèche it was just a tad too hot, but nothing too bothersome. That of course makes it easier for me to love camping. I’m sure if I were to experience a bad weather night in a tent, I’d be a little less enthusiastic.
Feeling of insecurity
And then the last item that comes to my mind, is that you also have to feel comfortable enough knowing that you don’t have a locked door to sleep behind. I actually feared that I would have a hard time sleeping because of that, knowing that I once gave up on a night sleeping in my garden because I was scared someone would come inside my tent. Okay, I was still a kid, but still, there is that uneasy feeling of only a thin layer of tent canvas between you and the outside world. Fortunately, the chances of being robbed on a campground are very slim.
So as you can see, for me, the pros definitely outweighed the cons. But I will also admit that camping for me will have its season. You won’t find me camping in sub zero temperatures or during the peak of summer. France was also the perfect destination as there are many great campgrounds to be found, so I may be a little biased. But for now, I’m definitely on team tent and I hope to travel more like that in the future!